Patient’s choice of doctor under threat

Proposed changes to regulation by the Medical Board of Australia will single out medical practitioners who practise supposed ‘unconventional’ medicine threatening patients’ freedom of choice.

Effectively the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) is proposing one set of rules for ‘conventional’ medical practitioners and another more stringent set for those providing ‘complementary and unconventional medicine and emerging treatments’.

The move follows the Government’s removal this week of private health fund rebates for natural therapies.

According to Blackmores CEO, Marcus Blackmore AM, “The MBA proposal lumps together ‘complementary medicine with unconventional medicine and emerging therapies’ into a single definition. They’re not the same.”  An open letter from Mr Blackmore can be read here and is also on the Blackmores website

It is thought about 30 per cent of Australian GPs utilise some aspect of complementary medicine within their medical practice and some argue that this is current conventional medicine as these are highly trained, specialist doctors, educated beyond their medical tertiary qualifications.

“In any profession there are good and bad practitioners,” said Mr Blackmore. “We can’t have one rule for some practitioners and one rule for others. The key is ensuring regulation is focused on the health and safety of ALL Australians. There should be only ONE set of good practice guidelines that ALL doctors should follow.

“This latest act, combined with the removal of natural therapies, is a step backwards in time and an indictment on the progress of healthcare in Australia. We need to be open to taking a holistic approach to treatment and embracing new and innovative medical practices.”

If these regulations go through, any doctor practicing safe and effective Integrative Medicine may find themselves breaching the regulations and potentially subject to disciplinary action from the MBA’s regulatory branch, AHPRA, including deregistration.

What is clear is that such a threat will deter a number of practitioners, ultimately limiting patient choice.

The public can visit the Medical Board of Australia website to download the proposal and have their say here: www.medicalboard.gov.au/News/Current-Consultations.aspx

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